The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji

I.D Soni

Sri Desika, one of the greatest Vaishnava preceptors, has this to say of Guru, ” A single glance from the Guru’s eyes will confer greater benefits than-The three eyes of Shiva; The eight eyes of Brahma; The thousand eyes of Vishnu.” God is not higher than the preceptor, Sri Desika adds, nothing in the world can match the graciousness of the Guru’s glance. The Christians believe that God sent his son Jesus Christ, down to this earth so that he may open the doors of Paradise to lost souls. In the Hindu way of life, we believe that God comes down to the earth in the form of the Guru to guide wandering souls back to their true homeland. Therefore, we see God in our Guru, we see God through our Guru, we reach God with his help; we are united with God, when we merge our being with the Guru’s being, submitting to his will. Guru Arjan Dev was such a Great preceptor.
Guru Arjan dev was the fifth Guru of the Sikhs who occupied the spiritual throne after the demise of his father, the fourth Guru Shri Ram Dass Ji in 1581 at the age of 18 years. He was the youngest son of the 4th Guru. He was born at Goindwal on 15 April, 1563and his mother was Bibi Bhani, the daughter of 3rd Guru Sh. Amar Dass.
Guru Amar Dass was extremely fond of his maternal grandson and did not mind any inconvenience caused by him. Once Guru Sahib was having his Siesta (a period of six hours after sunrise), the two year young entered the room and woke him up. When the servant came to pick him up, the Guru forbade him and observed, this grandson of mine will sail people across ocean of life”.
Guru Arjan Dev devoted his time and energy to complete the unfinished projects of his father. Guru Arjan Dev was an avid reader, a prolific writer, a poet, an intellectual, an impressive preacher and a man of fire with no ordinary flame. He lived with an exceptional effulgence. He was a man of awakening, an Ata bodhi. His presence exuded light. His words stirred hearts. His life stirred souls, inspiring them, driving them higher and higher.
Guru Arjan Dev ji, the priority was the completion of the tank of Amritsar in A.D. 1589. A Hari Mandir was built in the midst of the tank and Guru ji invited his great contemporary mystic and Muslim savant Hazrat Sian Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the temple in January, 1589 and its infrastructure was completed in A.D. 1601. It is a symbol of spiritualism and secularism, divinity and devotion, grace, and virtue where people of all religions throng daily in continuous crowds to pay their obeisance by prostrating before this monumental Words.
The other immortal and memorial work done by Guru Arjan Dev ji Maharaj is the compilation of Adi Granth that contains more than six thousand hymns of 6 Guru’s and 29 other Hindu saints and Muslim mystics. He collected the hymns of the first four Gurus i.e. 974 hymns of Guru Nanak, 65of Guru Angad Dev, 907 of Guru Amar Dass, 679 hymns of his father Guru Ram Dass and 2213 hymns of his own. It was a most tremendous and sedentary job that Guru ji performed for the sake of Sangat to bring it out from the ball of ignorance and darkness.
What is the wealth of a Nation? Its heroes and martyrs, its Rishis, and saints. June 16 is sacred to Guru Arjan Dev, one of the greatest heroes of Hindu history. Three centuries and more have passed on. His name shines among the immortals of history. Guru Arjan Dev was a great soul-a Divine Apostle, a true saint of God. And in His mercy, God placed on the Guru’s to of saint of God. And in his mercy, God placed on the Guru’s to head the crown of martyr, a shahid. A shahid is a witness. A shahid, “martyr” is a witness to truth.
His life was like that of flower. It was fragrance-filled. If was brief as the life of a flower is brief. Brief but beautiful. Brief but fragrance filled. There was a fragrance about his life, a radiance in his personality, a divinity in his glance that was felt by all but cannot be captured in words.
“What lives in history is the cross”, says a German poet. The cross is a symbol of the spirit of sacrifice. Sacrifice is immortal in history. The Guru suffered for the love of God. And I recall the words of an eminent man of letters, “whoso falls for the love of God rises like a star!” Guru Arjan Dev ji gave his life for the love of God. Today he shines like a star! Homage to him!
Akbar died on 12th Oct. 1605 and he was succeeding by his son prince Salim (Jahangir) and the situation took an ugly turn and a gulf was created between the Mughals and the Sikhs due to misunderstanding. Jahangir was a mixture of opposites and evinced keen interest in sadistic pleasure.
In 1606, Jahangir’s son revolted against his father and came at Lahore where Guru Arjan Dev ji blessed him and provided him financial assistance. This annoyed Jahangir. There was a rich Dewan and businessman named Chandu at Lahore who was hostile to Guru ji because Guru ji has refused to accept the hand of his daughter in marriage for his son Guru Har Govind. Jahangir fined Guru ji for helping his son because Hindus and Muslims were equal to him. Guru ji boldly refused to pay the fine as the many belonged to the community and Guru was only custodian of the public money. Jahangir while going to Kashmir handed over Guru ji to Chandu the blood thirsty tyrant who tortured the Guru ji in the manner unknown in history of mankind. Guru ji was brought to Lahore and put into prison. He was forced to sit on the hot iron plate and hot sand was poured on his head and body in the sweltering heat of May. This way Guru ji was martyred for his faith and will of God.
What a moving story is told us in the Sikh books of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev ji!
He was imprisoned by order of government. His body was chained. They tortured him. They asked him, again and again, to comply with the wishes of government and cancel some hymns from Granth Sahib. He boldly said, “I cannot cancel or alter an iota. There is no king save God. I do not fear, for my suffering is according to the will of God”.
And this great martyr continues to sing hymns of glory to God and homage to Guru Nanak, the incomparable man of his age.
Yes, Guru Arjan Dev ji continued to sing as they continued to torture him. For five days they tortured the Guru.Then he sent a message to his son, asking him not to mourn the Guru’s death nor “indulge in unmanly lamentation, but to sing God’s praises. Then, as the end was drawing nigh, he asked a minstrel to come with the rabab (musical instrument) and sing to him the songs of faith and sacrifice.
So passed away this poet martyr, one of the purest and noblest martyrs of whom history has a record in any age or country, in any book and religion.
According to Guru Arjan Dev ji, one must fight evil and injustice even if it means giving away one’s life.
Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom became a turning point in the history of the Sikh nation.

editorial article
Comments (0)
Add Comment